Cultural depictions of Margaret Thatcher
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Margaret Thatcher, as portrayed in the arts and popular culture, was depicted as "a hate-filled, miserly figure" during her eleven-year premiership, attracting musical opprobrium like no other British political leader. This is divergent from mainstream opinion polling which tends to place her as the most admired Prime Minister since Winston Churchill. Positive depictions make up a smaller group; among these is the 2011 film The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep, whose portrayal of Thatcher was critically acclaimed.
This page is a list of depictions of Thatcher on stage, in film, TV, radio, literature, music and in other forms of the arts and entertainment.
- The Iron Lady (2011) – Meryl Streep
- In Search of La Che (2011) – Steve Nallon
- Back in Business (2007) – Caroline Bernstein
- I Am Bob (2007) – Caroline Bernstein
- For Your Eyes Only (1981) – Janet Brown
- When Harvey Met Bob (2010) – Ingrid Craigie
- The Queen (2009) – Lesley Manville
- Margaret (2009) – Lindsay Duncan
- The Long Walk to Finchley (2008) – Andrea Riseborough
- Coup! (2006) – Caroline Blakiston
- The Line of Beauty (2006) – Kika Markham
- Pinochet in Suburbia (2006) – Anna Massey
- The Alan Clark Diaries (2004) – Louise Gold
- The Falklands Play (2002) – Patricia Hodge
- Deutschlandspiel (2000) (TV) – Nicole Heesters
- The Final Cut (1995) – funeral and memorial statue depicted
- Thatcher: The Final Days (1991) – Sylvia Syms
- House of Cards (1990) – began with a fictional successor preceding Thatcher's resignation
- About Face (1989) – Maureen Lipman
- First Among Equals (1986) – Hilary Turner
- Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho (2013–present) – A drag comedy musical play imagining what life would have been like if Thatcher had got lost in Soho on the eve of the vote for Section 28. It was performed in December 2013 at Theatre503 in London, in August 2014 at the Edinburgh Fringe and is transferring to London once again in March 2015 at the Leicester Square Theatre.
- The Audience (2013) – played in the premiere production by Haydn Gwynne
- Handbagged (2010) – A play shown at the Tricycle Theatre in London as part of its Women, Power and Politics festival. Handbagged examined the relationship between Thatcher and the Queen. The younger Thatcher was portrayed by Claire Cox and the elder by Stella Gonet. Handbagged was later expanded by its writer Moira Buffini and presented as a full play at the Tricycle in late 2013. The director was Indhu Rubasingham.
- The Death of Margaret Thatcher (2008) – coffin is onstage throughout the play, dealing with the differing reactions of the cast towards her death
- Market Boy (2006) – Set in a marketplace in 1980s Romford, a character called "Posh Lady" is meant to resemble Thatcher. When the play debuted at the National Theatre in London, she was played by Nicola Blackwell.
- Thatcher – The Musical! (c. 2006)
- Billy Elliot the Musical (2005) – contains the irreverent song "Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher" by Elton John
- Little Madam – a play by James Graham, exploring the life and career of Thatcher, presented at Finborough Theatre, London
- Sink the Belgrano! (1986) – a vitriolic satirical play by Steven Berkoff, in which she is called "Maggot Scratcher"
- Neocolonialism (2013) – Thatcher is quoted in the main menu, and sometimes appears as a computer player
- The Hunt for Tony Blair (2011) – Jennifer Saunders
- Jeffrey Archer: The Truth (2002) – Greta Scacchi
- The Comic Strip Presents... (1990, 1992) – Jennifer Saunders
- Dunrulin (1990) – Angela Thorne
- KYTV (1989) – Steve Nallon
- Doctor Who: "The Happiness Patrol" (1988) – character of Helen A is a caricature of Thatcher
- The New Statesman (1987–90) – Steve Nallon
- Spitting Image (1984–96) – voiced by Steve Nallon; caricatured as a "fascist hermaphrodite: wearing power suits, using urinals and smoking cigars"
- Yes Minister (1984) – herself (a short sketch, on 20 January 1984, at an award ceremony for the writers, commemorated on a Private Eye cover)
- Anyone for Denis? (1982) – Angela Thorne
- The Iron Lady (1979) – Janet Brown (satirical album written by John Wells of Private Eye)
- Saturday Night Live (1979, 1982, 1988, 2013) – Michael Palin; Mary Gross; John Lithgow; Fred Armisen, Taran Killam, Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis, as Ian Rubbish and the Bizzaros
- The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
- Alan Clark Diaries: Volume 2: Into Politics 1972–1982 by Alan Clark (2000)
- Icon by Frederick Forsyth (1997)
- A Heart So White by Javier Marías (1995) – The hero of the novel is an interpreter at a long conversation between Thatcher and a Spanish politician. Thatcher refers to the play Macbeth, from which the novel's title derives.
- The Fist of God by Frederick Forsyth (1994)
- Alan Clark Diaries: Volume 1: In Power 1983–1992 by Alan Clark (1993)
- A Little Bit of Sunshine by Frederick Forsyth (1991)
- The Negotiator by Frederick Forsyth (1989)
- The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth (1984)
- First Among Equals by Jeffrey Archer (1984)
- The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth (1979), in which the character of British Prime Minister Joan Carpenter is based on Thatcher
- Miracleman: Olympus by Alan Moore and John Totleben (1989) – Thatcher appears as Prime Minister intimidated by the Miracleman Family to comply with their fascist government
- The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – August 6, 1983 (2014) – a short story by Hilary Mantel
While in power, Thatcher was the subject of several songs which opposed her government, including The Beat's "Stand Down Margaret", as well as a sarcastic declaration of faux adoration (Notsensibles' "I'm in Love with Margaret Thatcher"). After she left government, several offensive songs called for her death or looked forward to celebration of her death, including Morrissey's "Margaret on the Guillotine" ("The kind people have a wonderful dream, Margaret on the guillotine"), Elvis Costello's "Tramp the Dirt Down" ("I'll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down"), Hefner's "The Day That Thatcher Dies" ("We will dance and sing all night") and Pete Wylie's "The Day That Margaret Thatcher Dies" ("She's gone!, And nobody cries").
Songs with Thatcher as the subject include:
- "All My Trials" by Paul McCartney
- "Margaret on the Guillotine" (song from Morrissey's album Viva Hate)
- "Stand Down Margaret" by The Beat
- "The Day That Margaret Thatcher Dies" by Pete Wylie
- "The Day That Thatcher Dies" by Hefner
- "Tramp the Dirt Down" by Elvis Costello
- "I'm There!" by Janet Brown
- "Wallflowers" by MC Frontalot
- "Margaret" by Russian band Electroforez
- "Ronnie And Mags" by NOFX
- "Miss Maggie" by Renaud
- "Madame Medusa" by UB40
- "Maggie" by The Exploited
- "The Grocer" by Ewan MacColl
- "I'm in love with Margaret Thatcher" by Notsensibles (one of the more sympathetic depictions of Thatcher in popular music)
- "Maggie's Farm" by The Blues Band
- "Thatcher's Fortress" by The Varukers
- "Maggie Maggie Maggie (Out Out Out)" by The Larks
- "Margaret's Injection" by Kitchens of Distinction
- "Thatcher Fucked the Kids" by Frank Turner
Roger Waters in 1983 referred to Thatcher sarcastically as "Maggie" multiple times throughout the Pink Floyd album The Final Cut. In the song The Fletcher Memorial Home Waters calls "Maggie" an overgrown infant and an incurable tyrant. At the end of the song he quietly speaks of applying the Final Solution to her and other famous world leaders. The band Genesis in 1986 utilised a puppet representing her (as well as other politicians) in the music video Land of Confusion from the album Invisible Touch.
During her political career, Margaret Thatcher was the subject or the inspiration for several protest songs. Paul Weller was a founding member of Red Wedge collective, which unsuccessfully sought to oust Thatcher with the help of music. In 1987, they organised a comedy tour with British comedians Lenny Henry, Ben Elton, Robbie Coltrane, Harry Enfield and others.
Less than two months after Thatcher resigned, musical acid house group V.I.M. released a rave track entitled "Maggie's Last Party". Described by critic Jon Chapple as "strikingly original, and catchy to the point of irritation", the track was a "fusion" of Thatcher's "uncompromising speeches with a slowly-evolving post-acid house backing"; it reached #68 on the UK Singles Chart in January 1991. The track had proved popular with many nightclubs at the time, despite the mixed view of Thatcher among the rave community.
Notable works include:
- Maggie (2009) by Marcus Harvey – a black-and-white portrait composed of over 15,000 casts of sculptural objects including vegetables, dildos, masks and skulls. The work weighs over a ton.
- In the Sleep of Reason by Mark Wallinger – a video piece taken from Thatcher's 1982 Falklands speech and edited to show only each blink, thus giving the appearance that her eyes are constantly shut.
Thatcher was seen as a "gift" by political cartoonists. Among the most memorable images are Gerald Scarfe's provocative "scythe-like" caricatures, some of which were exhibited in his 2005 show "Milk Snatcher, Gerald Scarfe – The Thatcher Drawings".
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- Decapitation of a statue of Margaret Thatcher
- "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead", which had reached number two in the UK Singles Chart after Thatcher's death
- Thatchergate, a hoax perpetrated by members of the anarcho-punk band Crass
- Thatcher illusion, an optical effect first demonstrated on a photograph of Thatcher
- Everett-Green, Robert (8 April 2013). "Margaret Thatcher in pop culture: A Scrooge with all the power and no midnight conversion". The Globe and Mail.
- Sweeney, Ken (9 April 2013). "Everyone cheered when she quit". Evening Herald. Dublin.
- Music Blog (8 April 2013). "Five songs about Margaret Thatcher". The Guardian.
- "YouGov / Sunday Times Survey Results" (PDF). YouGov.
- Billington, Michael (8 April 2013). "Margaret Thatcher casts a long shadow over theatre and the arts". The Guardian.
- Ticketsolve - Leicester Square Theatre
- "Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide – The Happiness Guide – Details". BBC News. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- Derek B. Scott (2016). The Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Musicology. Routledge. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-317-04197-9.
- on YouTube
- Mantel, Hilary (19 September 2014). "Hilary Mantel: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – August 6th 1983". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
- Reynolds, Gillian (30 November 2009). "A Family Affair (Radio 4): a Lovable, impossible and ingenious portrait of Mrs T – review". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- Eggers, Dave (2004) "And Now, a Less Informed Opinion", Spin, October 2004, p. 66-8
- Shennan, Paddy (24 September 2008). "Why the hatchets are out for an old enemy". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- "Paul's Song Rips Thatcher", Chicago Sun-Times, 27 November 1990, p. 20
- Goddard, Simon (2009) Mozipedia, Ebury Press, ISBN 978-0091927097, p. 249
- Gundersen, Edna (16 April 2013). "I'm There song reissue mocks Margaret Thatcher on day of funeral". USA Today. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- Lewis, Randy (16 April 2013). "Album skewering Margaret Thatcher to be reissued on April 17". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- "Pink Floyd – The Fletcher Memorial Home". SongMeanings.
- "Canzoni contro la guerra - The Fletcher Memorial Home". Antiwar Songs (AWS) (in Italian). Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- Library of Congress LCCN: The final cut. Pink Floyd. LC control no. 93711744. Music Sound Recording. Publisher no. QC38243 Columbia. Rock music—1981–1990..
- Library of Congress LCCN: Invisible touch. Genesis. LC control no. 91758551. Music Sound Recording. Publisher no. 81641-1-E Atlantic/7 81641-1-E Atlantic. Rock music—1981–1990..
- Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine - The Young Offender's Mum (CD) at Discogs
- Heard, Chris (4 May 2004). "Rocking against Thatcher". BBC News.
- "V.I.M.- Maggie's Last Party (Radio Mix)". SoundCloud. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- Chapple, Jon (13 January 2011). "V.I.M. - Maggie's Last Party (1991)". PopMatters. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- "V.I.M. | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- Holden, Michael (9 April 2013). "Thatcher's War on Acid House | VICE | United Kingdom". VICE. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
- "A Contemporary Portrait Of Margaret Thatcher By Marcus Harvey". Artlyst.
- Freeman, Hadley (16 April 2003). "I wanted to invade her privacy". The Guardian.
- Kinghorn, Kristie (14 March 2015). "Gerald Scarfe's controversial Margaret Thatcher cartoons on show". BBC News.
- "Margaret Thatcher: An inspiration to artists?", BBC News
- "Margaret Thatcher: Time stage and screen took the Iron Lady seriously", The Telegraph
- "How Margaret Thatcher left her mark on British culture", The Guardian
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